Episode 1: The Women's Court

Season #1

In Episode 1 of Virtuosa Society’s inaugural season, host Katie Harman weaves together two different tales of collaboration between royal circles.

First, the little known behind-the-scenes story of what is widely considered one of the first operas ever written: La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (“The Liberation of Roger from the Island of Alcina”). The twist? It was deliberately meant to send a collaborative message of gender equality by three wildly different women in service to the Medici Family in 1620s Tuscany: Francesca Caccini - chief composer for the Medici for over three decades and a professional female musician able to carve out an extraordinarily rare career during the Italian Renaissance, alongside powerful Medici matriarch Christine de Lorraine and her headstrong Austrian daughter-in-law Maria Magdelena. Together they formed The Women’s Court, and their desire to protect and project the lives of strong women converged on one unforgettable night in 1625.

In connection, Katie recalls a poignant reunion between her Miss America sisters in 2015 and shares a meaningful snippet of her conversation with Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler, talking about the importance of sharing our stories to uplift the experience of womanhood.

Special thanks to the extensive research of Professor Suzanne Cusick, author of Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court: Music and the Circulation of Power, as well as Dr. Anna Beer, author of Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music. Their work was referenced throughout this podcast. Stay tuned for a feature interview with Dr. Anna Beer in a future episode!

The music of Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina was from a terrific 2017 recording by Allabastrina.

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Producer: Katie Harman @katieharmanebner

Audio Engineer: Will Cowser @williamcowser

Title Song: “Reflection of the Sun” by Anna Landström